Books for changing the world

This poignant play, written by current and formerly incarcerated authors, uses gripping truths and soulful dialogue to reveal the human cost of America’s for-profit justice system. The story follows Omar, pulled back into the prison system after trying to lift his family out of poverty, who struggles to maintain a sense of humanity while fighting to keep his loved ones close.

According to, “From institutionalized racism to addiction to the prison-industrial complex, this is a play about a great many large, pressing social challenges, but at its core it is a play about one family and its struggles to remain united as their world steadily crumbles. Impactful, warm, and unrelenting, this play that began as an experiment turns out to be an excellent examination of the human cost of a harsh and inhospitable world.”

For every print copy of Caged purchased from Haymarket Books through June 1, Haymarket will donate a copy of the book to prisoners and their families working with the New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons Consortium (NJ-STEP)

All profits from the book will go to a prison re-entry fund run by The Second Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth, New Jersey to help the playwrights secure housing and continue their schooling upon release.

  • “While the play’s characters ring with authenticity, Caged never neglects its serious political messaging. The play illustrates Black lives in dialogue with a racist system, in which state power reinforces cycles of violence while moments of extraordinary integrity and bravery break through the cracks. Fifteen minutes before the play begins, a dimly lit stage reveals a barred cell. Inside, Shaky Brown, ‘a gifted blues musician serving a life sentence,’ plays the blues. Throughout the play, his cell haunts the stage. Yet, his music—at once marginal and persistent, beautiful and full of grief—remains as well.” —Temerature Check,  PEN America

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